Chris Whitley | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

Chris Whitley 

Sign up for our newsletters Subscribe

Erstwhile folk-blues revivalist Chris Whitley has called his latest album, Soft Dangerous Shores (Messenger), a "Eurotrash folk-blues thing." That's not a surprising concept coming from Whitley--who once recorded a banjo-driven cover of Kraftwerk's "The Model"--but many of his new songs do in fact sound like Robert Johnson hooking up with a gloomy synth-pop band at a crossroads in Dresden. His electric and acoustic guitar playing alternates between icy starkness and deep-muck ooze, and producer Malcolm Burn brings a claustrophobic, restive mood to the songs. Burn's synths evoke metallic sparks, rumbling explosions, and blasts of arctic wind while Whitley mutters, gasps, and moans beneath the maelstrom. Occasionally a coherent theme emerges--"Medicine Wheel" is a prayer for healing with layered percussion that echoes Native American sacred drumming--but most of Whitley's lines read like Burroughs-esque cut-ups, where disconnected images combine to create a postapocalyptic aura. The title track describes two lovers entwined and trapped "behind burning doors," while "Her Furious Angels" suggests looming catastrophe: "If something falls from overhead / I'm only all disarmed." Sat 8/6, 7 PM, Martyrs', 3855 N. Lincoln, 773-404-9494 or 800-594-8499, $15.

Support Independent Chicago Journalism: Join the Reader Revolution

We speak Chicago to Chicagoans, but we couldn’t do it without your help. Every dollar you give helps us continue to explore and report on the diverse happenings of our city. Our reporters scour Chicago in search of what’s new, what’s now, and what’s next. Stay connected to our city’s pulse by joining the Reader Revolution.

Are you in?

  Reader Revolutionary $35/month →  
  Rabble Rouser $25/month →  
  Reader Radical $15/month →  
  Reader Rebel  $5/month  → 

Not ready to commit? Send us what you can!

 One-time donation  → 

Comments

Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

Agenda Teaser

Galleries & Museums
September 10
Performing Arts
April 30

Popular Stories